I struggled with the lead angle on the Eagles’ tough, tough loss to the Titans on Sunday…Most of the over-reactors are blaming the off-man “prevent” coverage of the Eagles’ defensive backfield for the loss…
What I saw was the accumulation of a long day of getting beat at the line of scrimmage—not all the time, but enough to create just enough opportunity for Marcus Mariota to seize the day on numerous second chances in the second half, and in overtime.
Good things I saw were the re-emergence of Alshon Jeffery as the ultimate go-to receiver, the hard-nosed running of Wendell Smallwood who at times looked like a mini-Jim Brown, some really smooth defensive plays by Malcolm Jenkins, and a burst of light at PR by a young man named Carter who arose from the dead off the waiver wire.
Bad things I saw were the repeated maulings of Carson Wentz in a way-too-fragile pocket, too many drops by Agholor and Matthews, really egregious missed tackles by our corners, and an offensive line/RB pass protect scheme that simply seemed unprepared for reading the defensive pressure from Dean Pees and the Titans front seven (which even we had warned the Eagles about in our most recent column).
Ugh. Credit to the Titans for hanging in there, and in particular to Mariota for playing about as complete a game in all phases of his athleticism and brain-savvy as I have ever seen from him at the pro level.
Mariota hit Davis with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Titans beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-23 on Sunday for their best start since 2013.
“He believes in us, believes we can go get that first down and go win the game,” Mariota said of Vrabel letting the offense go for a third fourth down on the final drive. “When you have a head coach that believes in you, man that means the world.”
Succop was lining up for a 50-yard attempt when Vrabel took the timeout. Only 17 seconds remained with the Titans facing third-and-goal when Mariota finally ended the game after 3 hours, 36 minutes.
“I got my heart pills coming,” Vrabel joked. “I got a prescription, a big bottle. But I’m just proud of them being able to execute in the most critical of situations.”
The Titans trailed by 14 in the third quarter before rallying for the lead. They also trailed 23-20 in overtime before coming back again behind Mariota, who in his first start since being knocked out of the season opener with an injured elbow threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns while also running for a score.
On the game-winning drive, the Titans converted three fourth downs, one by penalty. Mariota hit Taywan Taylor with a 19-yarder on fourth-and-15, and Mariota found a wide-open Dion Lewis on fourth-and-2 for a 17-yard gain. Mariota lofted the ball a bit knowing Davis would have room in the end zone for his first TD catch in the regular season.
“I got tackled by a bunch of teammates, but it felt good,” said Davis, who finished with 161 yards receiving.
The Titans (3-1) also came up with four sacks. Rookie Harold Landry got his first and also stripped Carson Wentz of the ball within the first minute of the fourth quarter, setting up the second of Succop’s two field goals.
The Eagles (2-2) had their chances to win both at the end of regulation and in overtime but were forced to settle for a pair of field goals by Jake Elliott.
“This hurts,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “This stings. Losses like this sting, and it’s something we use as fuel for our emotion moving forward.”
Philadelphia had three chances inside the Tennessee 20 to win in regulation after DeAndre Carter returned a punt 42 yards to the Titans 39 with 1:41 left, but Wentz threw incomplete on first and third down. Elliott kicked a 30-yarder to force overtime.
In the extra period, the Eagles had first-and-10 at the Tennessee 17 but had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Elliott for the lead.
The Eagles led 10-3 at halftime and 17-3 after a masterful drive that ate up more than 7 minutes of the third quarter before Wentz hit receiver Alshon Jeffery with a 16-yard TD .
Mariota finally got the Titans’ offense going after just two offensive touchdowns through the first three games. He capped a 75-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run to pull Tennessee within 17-10 late in the third, and he hit Tajae Sharpe with an 11-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles outgained Tennessee 432-397 with Wentz throwing for 348 yards. Jeffery finished with 105 yards receiving and a TD, and Zach Ertz had 10 catches for 112 yards.
INJURIES: Eagles: Right guard Brandon Brooks limped to the sideline late in the fourth quarter. Titans: Linebacker Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee’s leading tackler, hurt his shoulder in the first quarter and did not return. Safety Kenny Vaccaro went to the locker room with trainers late in the first half with an injured right elbow and watched the second half with his arm in a sling on the sideline.
UP NEXT: Eagles host Minnesota October 7th. Enough time to “fix” whatever it is that the Titans exposed?
|Passing 1st downs||18||16|
|Rushing 1st downs||6||3|
|1st downs from penalties||1||3|
|3rd down efficiency||5-15||5-16|
|4th down efficiency||0-0||3-3|
|Yards per Play||5.7||5.8|
|Yards per pass||5.8||7.1|
|Yards per rush||5.3||3.2|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-4||3-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
“We let them off the hook and they made some plays on us,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We had them three times on fourth down in OT and we couldn’t get off the field.”